A roll of fallen literary heroes: John Updike, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Iain Banks, further back to Robert Heinlein and Paul Theroux, now, perhaps, joined by Haruki Murakami. Writers whose work once replied to inner urgent whispers, now induce a gelid indifference. Is it that the stream of human events, deaths, loves, sadnesses, journeys, alters our literary needs so that once cherished books cease to offer cathartic release? Or is our literary sensitivity attuned by a higher nutrient diet, purged by Samuel Beckett, J. M. Coetzee and Virginia Woolf? Who are your fallen literary heroes?
It is my favourite time of the year for book buying, when publishers release the highest volume of compelling books. Most of the books I buy during the year are older releases, filling gaps in my collection of the thirty or so writers I return to repeatedly (the ‘I Prefer’ list in my side-bar). Occasionally I am drawn in by a new writer on the scene (Teju Cole) or by newly translated writers. Here are some of the books I have pre-ordered and look forward to reading in the colder, darker months:
- The second volume of Samuel Beckett’s letters covering the war years and the period when he wrote The Trilogy.
- Impossible Objects – Interviews with the inspiring Simon Critchley, covering tragedy, poetry, humour and music.
- 1Q84 – The long-awaited Murakami which I won’t be reading until the noise has passed.
- Pascal Quignard’s Sex and Terror and The Roving Shadows; a writer endorsed by two great readers.
- All the Roads are Open and Lyric Novella by Annemarie Schwarzenbach. A new writer to me but both books sound deeply fascinating.
- Professor Andersen’s Night – Dag Solstad. I enjoyed Shyness and Dignity and the brilliant Novel 11, Book 18.
- Dukla – Andrzej Stasiuk (review).
- The Map and the Territory – Michel Houellebecq’s latest provocation, his books draw me in like a rubbernecker at an accident scene.
- Parallel Stories – Péter Nádas. Though I must read A Book of Memories (“The greatest novel written in our time, and one of the great books of the century.” Susan Sontag) first.